THE Sunderland fan, who inspired a huge fund-raising drive in memory of two Newcastle supporters killed in an air tragedy, admits he is sceptical that the Sunday Tyne-Wear derby will be trouble-free.
Black Cats supporter Gary Ferguson set up an online appeal after the deaths of Liam Sweeney and John Alder in July.
The pair were travelling to see their team play in a pre-season friendly in New Zealand when terrorists shot down their plane over Ukraine.
Sunderland and Newcastle fans alike dug deep for the appeal, with tens of thousands of pounds generated in the fans’ memory.
However, despite police chiefs saying there will be a more relaxed approach to managing fans at the first derby game of the season, Gary, of South Shields, says he is worried that it might not work, calling it “a recipe for disaster”. No special Metro trains designated for Sunderland supporters will run from Wearside on match day, while the typical police escort for fans will not be in place for them to walk to St James’s Park.
Northumbria Police have said that plenty of police will be on patrol in the city centre.
A Love Supreme fanzine editor Martyn McFadden recently said he is concerned about the potential danger, which Gary agrees with.
“The police have gone from one extreme to the other and, I think, it’s a bit of a recipe for disaster,” said the 49-year-old, who will be at the game on Sunday.
“There will be loads of Sunderland fans going to Newcastle before the game and then on to the ground.
“For me, it’s inviting trouble.
“It doesn’t matter what I say, there’ll always be the five per cent of fans who cause bother.”
Gary added that he feels there could be more mutual respect following the summer’s tragedy and he hopes that the game passes off without serious incident.
Pubs in Newcastle have agreed not to sell booze before 10am on Sunday, which is the last weekend day before Christmas.
“I think it’s too soon to be policing things this way, but that’s what happens, I hope both sets of fans don’t antagonise people,” said Gary.
“If you’re a Sunderland fan walking to the game then sing Sunderland songs, not anti-Newcastle ones and the same for Newcastle fans.”
Meanwhile, it has been announced that memorabilia belonging to John Alder will be auctioned off to raise money for the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation.
The items will be auctioned off at St James’s Park on Sunday, February 22.